Methodological notes: Report on Québec employee compensation – Rémunération des salariés. État et évolution comparés 2017

Comparison of total compensation

Montréal, November 30, 2017. – The report Rémunération des salariés. État et évolution comparés 2017, produced by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, presents the detailed results of the comparison between the salaries and total compensation paid to Québec government employees and those paid to other Québec employees in 2017.

Québec government employees include those in the public service, the education system (school boards and CEGEPs), and the health and social services network.

Other Québec employees are those working in enterprises with 200 or more employees in the private sector or in the “other public” sector. The latter comprises the various public administrations and enterprises not included in the Québec government, such as municipal governments (cities with populations of 25,000 or more), government business enterprises, universities, and the federal government in Québec. Employees in the sectors compared may be unionized or non-unionized. Certain sectors, such as agriculture and construction, are excluded.

The compensation envelope covered is extensive. Total compensation comprises three main components: salaries, benefits, and hours at work. Hours at work are calculated by subtracting paid time off from normal working hours to obtain compensation per hour worked. Salaries account for about 70% of total compensation. The costs associated with certain elements of total compensation, in particular those related to variable pay and job security, are not taken into consideration in the comparison.

The Institut uses the employer-costs method, which measures employers’ compensation costs for a given fiscal year. Comparisons are based on the most recent data available. As a result, the average salaries reflect the rates in effect in 2017.

To add another dimension to the salary comparisons, the Institut also disseminates information on salary scales. These analyses are based on the job rates at the top of the salary scales (normal maximums), which reflect the salary policies of employers, as well as on the position of employees within their scales.

The 76 benchmark jobs used in the comparison are spread across five occupational categories and represent nearly one in three regular full-time employees in the Québec government. The employees not covered, such as teachers and nurses, generally have no direct and relevant counterparts in the rest of the labour market. When only the truly comparable jobs are taken into account, coverage increases to 100%.

Comparisons are based on compensation differentials. To determine the Québec government’s status in relation to the sector compared, the Institut uses measures of precision to take into account the risk of error inherent in any data from a survey based on a sample. The procedure used consists of a statistical test with a level of confidence of 95%. A negative differential usually indicates that the compensation paid by the Québec government is less than that in the sector to which it is being compared (Québec government employees are behind), while a positive differential indicates greater compensation paid by the Québec government (Québec government employees are ahead). When the statistical test does not make it possible to conclude that the Québec government is ahead or behind, the Institut considers compensation in the two sectors compared to be equivalent (parity). Thus, a differential not equal to zero may, in certain cases, still be considered as an indication of parity.

The Institut also analyzed the evolution of compensation differentials from 2016 to 2017, as well as over a longer period (from 2009 to 2017).

Salary trends

Salary trend findings for unionized employees are drawn from the collective agreement databank of the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale du Québec. These agreements cover unionized employees belonging to bargaining units with 100 or more blue-collar workers, 50 or more white-collar employees, or a combination of the two in the case of “mixed” agreements. For the purposes of this analysis, the municipal and federal sectors include the public administrations and government business enterprises of these two levels of government in Québec.

Regarding non-unionized employees, the results are based on salary planning surveys available to the Institut at the time of writing of the report. The participants in these surveys are mainly medium and large enterprises. The results are based on the salary-scale increases paid and projected for all the occupational categories covered by the Institut’s compensation comparisons.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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  • Nadège Jean
    Coordinator, Compensation Studies
    Direction des statistiques du travail et de la rémunération
    Phone: 514-876-4384, ext. 6224
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